Thirty-eight million people will be living under tier-three rules from 00:01 GMT.
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will move up a tier, as are parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the new tier levels in England “necessary”, and urged people to take “personal responsibility” for their actions to help curb the spread of the virus.
He told the Commons: “We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now.”
The announcement of the changes came as the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England showed that Covid cases are rising in all but one region.
London had the highest rate, at 319.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 13, up from 199.9 in the previous week. The rate went from 152.9 to 249.1 in eastern England, and from 167.6 to 238.7 in the South East.
And it prompted fresh concern about the decision by all four UK nations to relax restrictions and allow more mixing for five days over Christmas.
Ministers have issued updated guidance for the festive period, but Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said it will “undoubtedly lead to more cases, more pressure on NHS and care services, and more deaths”.
The latest areas to join tier-three were announced after London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex were placed under the top level of restrictions earlier in the week.
Bristol and North Somerset will move from tier-three to tier-two, and Herefordshire will move from tier-two into tier-one.
But Mr. Hancock said swathes of the nation, including much of the Midlands, the North West and North East which are already in tier-three, will remain there. The highest tier of restrictions will affect two-thirds of England’s population.
Which areas are changing tiers?
The health secretary said from 00:01 GMT, Saturday 19 December:
- Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey (except Waverley), Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant will move into tier-three.
- Bristol and North Somerset will be moved down to tier-two.
- Herefordshire will move from tier two to tier-one.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was concerned the tier system was “just not strong enough to control the virus”, saying the data showed “numbers going in the wrong direction.
And the news Greater Manchester would remain in tier-three provoked anger from some of the area’s MPs, including Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.
“The statement will be greeted with dismay in Greater Manchester, where we have had severe restrictions for nine months, where in nine of the 10 boroughs rates are below the national average,” he said.
The new six-week lockdown in Northern Ireland will see non-essential shops and close-contact services such as hair salons close and pubs, cafes and restaurants will be restricted to takeaway services.
Elsewhere, in Wales, non-essential shops will close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve, with an alert level four lockdown starting four days later.
And in Scotland, the deputy first minister warned that tougher restrictions – including a potential lockdown – after the festive period cannot be ruled out.
The UK recorded a further 532 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus to 66,052.
A further 35,383 cases were also recorded on Thursday, up from 25,161 on the previous day.
This figure includes 11,000 positive cases from Wales that were not previously recorded in official figures due to maintenance work on Public Health Wales’ computer systems at the end of last week.